Bygmalion case: the trial of Nicolas Sarkozy has been postponed to May 20th

The essentials The trial of Nicolas Sarkozy in the Bygmalion affair was postponed to May 20.

The trial of the Bygmalion case and the excessive spending on Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2012 presidential campaign were postponed to May 20 on Wednesday, as the lawyer of one of the defendants was hospitalized.

Heard for over a month, it will take place until June 22, the court ruled after more than an hour and a half of deliberation. The trial was originally scheduled for March 17th to April 15th. The most anticipated warning of the trial, the former President of the Republic, did not appear at the hearing because of the referral request, he said.

At the beginning of the referral request, Jérôme Lavrilleux – at the time the campaign’s deputy director – assured the legal profession that he would still have wished the process to take place as soon as possible. “I’ve been waiting for this trial since February 2017 to answer you,” he told the court. His lawyer Me Christian Saint-Palais is infected with Covid-19 and has been hospitalized. “I never wanted to delay it with a roll call during these instructions. But here I am disturbed,” explained the knotted voice of Jérôme Lavrilleux. All lawyers, including those of the civil parties and the public prosecutor’s office, have consented to the transfer requested by them.

For the second time in two weeks, Nicolas Sarkozy is on trial

Jérôme Lavrilleux is a central protagonist in this matter which led to cascading explosions on the right and the first to admit his participation in a huge fraud based on false bills aimed at hitting the UMP party (which has since become Les Républicains has become). the excessive spending of the Sarkozy campaign.

At the hearing, Nicolas Sarkozy’s historical lawyer, Thierry Herzog, sent a letter to the court stating that his client had “been informed of the referral request” and therefore “did not intend to be present”. This is the second time in two weeks that the former president has been on trial. On March 1, he became the first ex-president of the Fifth Republic to be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, one of which was permanent, for corruption and influence. In the Bygmalion case, he has to pay one year imprisonment and a fine of 3,750 euros.

Unlike his 13 co-defendants – former executives of Bygmalion and the UMP, accountants – who have been fired for fraud or complicity in particular, Nicolas Sarkozy is not held responsible for the false accounting system that is supposed to hide excessive spending on his campaign. According to prosecutors, Nicolas Sarkozy lowered spending despite several clear warnings about the risks of exceeding the cap, and he “undoubtedly benefited” from the fraud, which enabled him to have “far greater resources” than the law allowed : at A total of at least 42.8 million euros, almost double the legal upper limit at the time (22.5 million euros).

“Grandiose and millimeter staging” for large meetings

The investigation describes a campaign that was originally intended as a “lightning bolt” for the outgoing president – only about fifteen meetings planned, of which three or four were large gatherings. But the machine is racing: “the most advanced technical means” for stage, sound and lighting, “grandiose and millimeter staging” for large meetings … The prices continue to rise.
And while the first warnings of the risk of overtaking are falling, the candidate, on the contrary, asks that we accelerate the pace. There are more than 40 meetings in total.

In order to avoid the candidate having to publicly admit that his spending has deviated “dramatically” “with the political and financial consequences” that would have ensued, it was decided to “clean up” the campaign account, argues the prosecution. Thanks to a double billing system, the price for meetings is drastically reduced, and the rest is billed to the UMP in the name of fictitious party conferences.

Jean-François Copé heard as a simple witness

The trial could rekindle a fratricidal war within the French right, the Sarkozy camp and those close to Jean-François Cope, and deny each other responsibility for the fraud. Jérôme Lavrilleux (at the time also Chief of Staff of the UMP chief Jean-François Copé) is the only party that has recognized the facts. He was initially accused of having set up a “war chest” for the benefit of his boss’ political future.

Jean-François Copé is never questioned and tried as a simple witness in court. Some lawyers, including Nicolas Sarkozy’s, did not fail to scratch him on Wednesday, claiming that the former UMP general secretary was well aware of his party’s disastrous reports. “I still wonder where the money is going,” Nicolas Sarkozy had told the investigators, believing that the average price of his meetings was “in line” with that of his opponent François Hollande.